New Delhi: The Hewlett Foundation, one of the top American philanthropic institutions, has been barred by the Ministry of Home Affairs from donating funds to any Indian NGO without prior government approval after the alleged violation of laws by recipients, officials said.

The US-based donor gave over USD 465 million to scores of organisations globally, including in India, in 2020.

The Hewlett Foundation provides funds to the NGOs working in diverse fields of education, environment, gender equity and governance.

The American donor has been put on the ‘Prior Reference Category (PRC)’ under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA), a Home Ministry official said.

Placing on the PRC or the MHA’s watch list means the foreign donor will not be able to send any fund to any NGO in India without prior approval of the government.

The funds donated by the Hewlett Foundation were used by the Indian NGOs for purposes not allowed under the FCRA, the official alleged, without disclosing details.

The foundation was established in 1966 by engineer and entrepreneur William R. Hewlett and his wife Flora Lamson Hewlett with their eldest son Walter Hewlett.

William R. Hewlett was the co-founder of the global technology giant Hewlett-Packard (HP).

Under the new rules, all FCRA registered NGOs have to maintain an account at the State Bank of India’s parliament street branch in New Delhi.

Once an NGO is placed under the PRC, the bank has to inform the MHA if there is any fund transfer from abroad before being credited to the account concerned.

It is the MHA that takes the final decision whether the foreign fund will be allowed to be credited to the account of the Indian NGO concerned, another official said.

The prohibitive action against the Hewlett Foundation has been taken since November 2021.

The government has cancelled the FCRA registration of nearly 1,900 NGOs for violating various provisions of the law in the last five years.

There were 22,762 FCRA-registered organisations till December-end 2021.

Officials said the FCRA licence of 18,778 organisations expired between September 29, 2020 and December 31, 2021. Out of them, as many as 12,989 organisations have applied for the renewal of the FCRA licence between September 30, 2020 and December 31, 2021.

Since 5,789 organisations did not apply for the renewal of the FCRA licence last month, they were deemed to have ceased to be FCRA registered organisations, an official said.

Registration under the FCRA is a must for any NGO to receive funds from abroad.

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